Donor Spotlight: Meet Eugene Gaughan

Unlike many USA Rugby supporters and those reading this newsletter, I never played the game. Rather, I became interested in rugby quite by accident. While working in Manhattan as an accountant in the early 1970s, I frequented rugby pubs on the East Side of Manhattan like Drake’s Drum and the Red Blazer. One evening, I joined some of my mates and headed to Randall’s Island to see the Fiji National Team, returning home from a tour of Europe, who had interrupted their journey to play a team of New York All-Stars. I enjoyed the game – and the celebration afterwards!

Shortly thereafter, I was sent by my employer for a tour of duty in Europe and met an Irishman by the name of Fergus Ahern (not the same one who was then the scrumhalf for Ireland). He was a passionate supporter of both Munster and Ireland. We became fast friends and, together over the next thirty years, we traveled to Dublin and across Europe to attend rugby matches, including Rugby World Cups. In 2005, we followed the British and Irish Lions on tour to New Zealand. When Lansdowne Road was being rebuilt as Aviva Stadium, we bought ten year tickets. Following his untimely death, I now do my best to attend one Six Nations’ match and at least one Autumn International each year with his widow, Marian, and daughters, Grainne and Aisling.

Over time, I also began to support the USA Eagles. The first time I ever saw them play was against New Zealand in Gloucester, England during the 1991 Rugby World Cup (How many readers remember Kevin Swords and Brian Vizard?). The next two times were in Dublin against Ireland, in 1994 (Tom Billups and Dan Lyle?) and during the 1999 Rugby World Cup. My most memorable match, however, also against Ireland, was when my wife, Marge Duffy, and I attended the 2011 Rugby World Cup match in New Plymouth, N.Z. on the tenth anniversary of 9-11. Along with the entire USA team, we attended a memorial service in the morning; we then stood with both teams for a somber moment of silence before the game. Marge, a native of Ireland, was wearing green while I was wearing red, white and blue. More recently, over the past year, I have attended Eagles matches against Ireland in Houston, Canada in Charleston and Uruguay near Atlanta. Of course, I plan to travel to England in 2015; I hope I can persuade Marge to join me.

Another way I consider myself connected to rugby is as an alumnus of Xavier High School in Manhattan. Xavier has won the high school national championship three times, the last in 2010. I follow the current Xavier team’s progress and, recently at the international matches in both Houston and near Atlanta, I was proud to support three fellow Xavier alumni: Coach Mike Tolkin on the sideline, Mike Petri at No. 9 and Seamus Kelly at No. 13.

I am happy to be a contributor to USA Rugby in order to see rugby grow, not only in this country, but also for the USA on the world stage. I ask each reader to join me in donating to USA Rugby in accordance with your capacity to give, whether time, talent or treasure?

Marge and Gene at Xavier in New York with the 2010 high school championship trophy and Mike Petri, Eagle scrum-half, who teaches at the school.